We’re more than 8 months in to the coronavirus pandemic and it’s safe to say that many of our clients are experiencing burnout related to the changes we’ve experienced in 2020.

We’ve battled mandatory quarantines, travel restrictions, changes to every “normal” we’ve known (family life, school, workplace, running errands, eating out), people have lost jobs-their businesses-their childcare-their lives.  We’ve had an awakening to racial injustices and a contentious presidential election.

And although I wish this weren’t true, the pandemic isn’t waning (cases are surging throughout the country) and the impact of the pandemic will be affecting our collective mental health for years to come.

It is absolutely normal if you are experiencing any of the feelings below:

-A sadness, hopelessness, or depression.

-A constant underlying anxiety or fear that the other shoe is going to drop.

-Tension or frustration with family members, friends or coworkers.

-Low energy, tiredness during the day or having a hard time sleeping at night.

-A sense of apathy.

-A hard time focusing.

-Loneliness and a sense of isolation.

-Overwhelm or stress as you take on more at work and in your personal life.

-Loss of joy or disconnection from activities you used to love.

-A stronger desire to spend time numbing with screen time, food, alcohol or other vices.

 

If this sounds like you, remind yourself that you are living through a crisis unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lifetime.  No one has the answers; the sense of unknown, disconnection from others and underlying fears is affecting all of us.

What I want to remind you is that this is a time to focus on the (small) joys you *can* find and taking care of your mental and physical health and your environment–the things you *can* control.

Here’s our best tips to help you continue to survive the pandemic:

Lower your expectations for yourself: You don’t have to write that novel, redesign your house, start a business, or even get dressed every day.  Give yourself some grace.  You are living through a traumatic time in history.  Celebrate your little wins and show yourself patience and love on the daily.  

Learn to go with the flow and practice mental flexibility: We like routine and consistency.  Resiliency needs flexibility, though.  It’s okay to give yourself a moment to acknowledge your frustration and sadness when something changes, let yourself grieve.  You may notice that if you hold onto that frustration or try to change things you cannot control, that it can drain your energy and increase your irritability.  Lean on support and find ways to adapt if possible.

Set boundaries: Toxic person in your life? You don’t have time for that. Scrolling on Instagram for hours after bedtime? Nothing good will come from that. Children want to play but you NEED some alone time? You can’t parent if you are completely drained–it’s okay to lean on screentime or independent play while you hit play on a meditation app.  We’re pulled REAL thin right now and there are certain boundaries we need that we might not be able to set–the ones you can, though, set them and respect them.

Stay connected to loved ones: Depression thrives in isolation. Stay connected to friends or family who are good at supporting you with compassion and empathy.  Make sure you are offering them that same support.  Join an online therapy or support group if you need additional support.

Create something or connect to others’ creativity: Garden, paint a picture, play some music.  Simple moments can be healing and beautiful.

Do good for others: When the world seems hopeless, we need to make our own meaning.  Stepping into generosity, caring and helping roles gives us a sense of control in our lives AND creates more hope for ourselves and others.  

Get outside: The weather can impact this, but nature, sunshine and fresh air is necessary to keep us healthy.  Get out for a walk, open a window, watch the leaves move in the trees, notice the squirrel running on the grass.

Move your body: A good sweat is great, but even easy stretching or a walk can help.  Getting stuck in our heads increases anxiety and stress; getting into our bodies connects us with ourselves and keeps us mentally and physically healthy.

Breathe: Deep breathing soothes our nervous system and centers us.  Breath and mindfulness doesn’t have to be boring or intimidating.  Try apps like Calm or Headspace…or even just breathe in deeply while a nice smelling candle is lit next to you.  Simple and healing.

Talk to a therapist: We’re here and you don’t have to figure this out on your own.  

Hi! I'm Megan Negendank, founder and executive director of Love Heal Grow Counseling.

I help hurting, worried couples & individuals heal from pain and create thriving lives & relationships. 

You can read more about me or schedule an appointment here: About Megan